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2019 Year in Review


The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education had a stellar, cohesive 2019.

As the top-ranked Canadian institution for teaching and education research, OISE’s students, faculty, staff and alumni materialized innovative ideas, grew relationships locally and globally and achieved honours at the top of their fields.

Together, we made an impact. And we will continue to do so, with education and our community in mind. Before we do, let’s take a look back at some highlights from a productive, fruitful year.

We established a scholarship that would support research in early childhood education

In January, through a generous gift from the Froebel Foundation, founded by an OISE alum – the late Dr. Barbara Corbett – the Friedrich Froebel Early Childhood Education Scholarship was established for graduate students in OISE’s Child Study and Education program.

The scholarship will support students conducting research in early childhood education methods, including Froebel’s approach and philosophy that education should focus on social and personal growth as well as academic development that reaches beyond the classroom.

Read more about the scholarship

In December, the first wave of Froebel scholarship winners were honoured. Jessica Costello, Aicha Jaichi, Krystina Telesca, Sarah Tracz and Jacqueline Wilson received plaques from Annemarie and Wouter Van Essen, trustees of the Froebel Foundation, at the department of applied psychology and human development’s research gala. Tajuana Payne is also a winner but was not in attendance.

Read about the winners

OISE hosted one of North America’s largest education conferences

In April, for the first time in 40 years, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) held its annual meeting in Toronto. The five-day conference is the largest gathering of scholars in the field of education research each year, and this year’s event brought about 14,000 researchers, policymakers, practitioners and students to campus.

Over 200 OISE scholars were among them. The theme for this year’s conference was called “Leveraging Education Research in a ‘Post-Truth’ Era: Multimodal Narratives to Democratize Evidence,” which highlighted the importance of evidence-based policymaking and practice in education.

Read more about the AERA conference here

OISE and our educational partners promised to continue and grow our global partnership

In November, a memorandum of understanding signed by the International Network of Education Institutes (INEI) – a group of 11 educational institutions of which OISE is a partner – affirmed that the organization would continue for a new five-year term – ending in 2024.

The INEI is composed of leading faculties of education from all continents except Antarctica – which prioritize both teacher education and educational research. The MOU signing was facilitated by OISE’s Continuing and Professional Learning and took place at the group’s November meeting – which was convened with the objective of discussing ways of strengthening the network through mutual collaboration.

Read about the MOU

The Honourable Bill Davis delivered an exhilarating 2019 R.W.B. Jackson Lecture

It took place on March 27, and the Honourable William G. Davis, in conversation with award-winning journalist Steve Paikin (Davis’ biographer), delivered the R.W.B Jackson Lecture. It is the Institute's signature event each year, and was established as a tribute to OISE’s founding director, Robert William Brierley Jackson – who was appointed by Davis.

This event aims to address major educational and social issues while connecting, inspiring and empowering OISE’s community of educators, scholars, students and leaders.

Read more about that night

Zanana Akande addressed OISE graduates at this past spring’s convocation

Zanana Akande, the first Black woman elected to Ontario’s legislature and the first Black woman to serve in the cabinet, gave parting advice to this year’s graduating students before they turned the page to a new chapter of their lives.

Watch Zanana’s spring convocation address

An OISE alum, Akande was also an honoured guest at this year’s Black Graduation, which was held at U of T Mississauga for the first time. Many of this year’s OISE graduates also attended the Black Grad celebration, and some won awards for their research and leadership.

Read more about Black Graduation 2019

An OISE researcher found a way to accurately measure blood pressure with a selfie

Kang Lee, a professor of applied psychology and human development at OISE, found that blood pressure can be measured accurately by taking a quick video selfie. Kang, Canada Research Chair in developmental neuroscience, published the finding in the American Heart Association journal Circulation – he was the lead author of the study.

Lee made the finding with technology he co-discovered with his postdoctoral researcher Paul Zheng. His team worked alongside researchers from the Faculty of Medicine’s department of physiology and from Hangzhou Normal University and Zhejiang Normal University in China.

Read the full story about Professor Kang’s app

OISE is helping to digitalize Indigenous knowledge

Jennifer Wemigwans, a professor with the department of leadership, higher and adult education, began helping about 40 Indigenous Timekeepers – from across North and South America – who wanted, for the first time in centuries, to begin publicly sharing knowledge from each of their calendars online.

Followed by Indigenous communities prior to colonization, traditional calendars represent the world views of the nations from which they originate and are seen as an invaluable source of Indigenous traditional knowledge and ways of being. Wemigwans is helping to share information that was outlawed during colonization and hidden for generations.

Read more about Professor Wemigwans’ undertaking

An OISE professor produced a play and a documentary about young people

Kathleen Gallagher, a professor in the department of curriculum, teaching and learning, wrote about her research – that there is a strong correlation between age and diminished hope. This past April, she helped produce a documentary play called Towards Youth, which had its world premiere at Crow’s Theatre in Toronto. The play was built from a decade of ethnographic research on hope, care and young people in drama classrooms in Toronto, Coventry, Athens, Tainan and Lucknow.

Read more about Towards Youth

Kathleen Gallagher was named a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

In September, Gallagher was one of 11 University of Toronto researchers named fellows of the prestigious Royal Society of Canada – considered a major achievement for scholars in this country. Fellows have made remarkable contributions in the arts, humanities and sciences and will be mobilized to contribute knowledge, understanding and insight through engagement with the Canadian public. They are nominated and elected by their Royal Society of Canada peers.

Gallagher joined over 370 Royal Society of Canada fellows from U of T – and more than 2,000 active fellows overall.

Read more the honour

We took strong positions on full-day kindergarten

In 2010, the Ontario government implemented a two-year, full-day kindergarten program as part of its initiative to create a cohesive, coordinated system for early years programs and services across the province.

This decision, according to a study published in January – co-authored by Janette Pelletier, a professor in the department of applied psychology and human development – is paying off. Full-day kindergarten has lasting benefits on children’s behaviour and learning.

Read Professor Pelletier’s study here

Charles Pascal, also a professor in the department, offered his take in The Conversation in March, saying that “full-day kindergarten model, ever-improving based on ongoing research and evaluation, is working.”

Read Professor Pascal’s op-ed in The Conversation

Our faculty and students worked to improve mental health outcomes

For students in remote communities who need school psychologists and psychological assessment services, assistant professor Todd Cunningham ran a telepsychology program alongside Judy Wiener, professor emeriti at the department of applied psychology and human development.

The OISE Telepsychology Program offers teachers in these communities regular, ongoing academic intervention assistance and consultation services via video conferencing. It began with a Bell Let's Talk grant in 2014 and has since been adapted in over 13 communities.

Read our story about the program

In January, our staff shone a light on three other OISE scholars who are advancing research and care in adolescent and young adult mental health: a research project led by assistant professor Jeffrey Ansloos, a research study by Abby Goldstein, the Canada Research Chair in the Psychology of Emerging Adulthood, and a research project by assistant professor Chloe Hamza.

Read about their mental health research here

OISE was named the seventh best educational institution in the world

The latest ranking by QS World University Rankings places OISE as the highest ranked school out of all institutions in Canada, and the top place for public universities in North America. OISE was the only Canadian institution to place within the Top 10.

Read our news story

Read about our ranking

OISE announced two new Doctor of Education programs

This past year, OISE announced two new Doctor of Education programs which will start in September 2020. One, announced in June, is a program in child study and education – designed for professionals in an education related field who are looking to enrich their education and improve their practice, including teachers, early childhood educators and community-based educators, among other fields. Through an advanced study of special education, wellbeing, mental health, and security applying a child study lens, the program will empower professionals to become change agents in education and bring about systemic change in organizations and communities.

Learn more about the program

The second Doctor of Education, in International Educational Leadership and Policy, was announced in September. The online doctorate is designed for mid-career professionals who work for international organizations, governments, foundations and nongovernmental agencies and are looking to enrich their education and improve their practice.

Learn more about this EdD program

We brought together hundreds of teachers to improve math knowledge for teaching

On August 21, the second Count Me In Math Institute (styled C(MI)for short) convened at OISE, bringing together 400 educators from across the Greater Toronto Area. The one-day professional development opportunity was organized in partnership with the University of Toronto’s department of mathematics and funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) outreach grant. Professor Mary Reid, a co-applicant of the grant, said the event offered teachers “a unique opportunity for math professional development.”

Read more about the Count Me in Math Institute

We observed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 30 years later

On November 20, 1989, most member states of the United Nations signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a human rights treaty that set out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children.

To mark the 30th anniversary, a number of OISE’s educational leaders reflected on the CRC’s significance. We asked them what remains to be done to truly honour and support the youngest of our young people going forward.

Read those responses here

Professor Charles Pascal wrote in the Toronto Star about how Canada is doing in ensuring the health and wellbeing of its children and youth. He did not mince words: “Considering our material resources and what’s required to secure substantial progress for the wellbeing of our children and youth, for many, a passing grade is a stretch.”

Read that op-ed here